Wear OS, like Android tablets, hasn’t exactly been a smashing success of a platform. While Apple seems to be doing well enough with its Apple Watch line, Wear OS (formerly Android Wear) never had a lead watch that could really help with adoption. Part of the blame there, some have argued, is because there just isn’t much tech to work with, namely in the chipset side of things. Yes, I’m talking about Qualcomm and the Snapdragon 2100 Android Wear-ready chip they made years ago.
It’s been 2 years since Qualcomm released that 2100 and no one has stepped up to release anything to compete with it. Since its launch, we’ve seen companies step away from Wear OS, sell few of the ones they do make, and rarely add to the experience (thickness, battery life, other health features, etc.), likely because there just isn’t new silicon to work with that pushes the platform forward.
This week, Wareable caught up with Pankaj Kedia, Qualcomm’s senior director of wearables, to talk about the future and if Qualcomm has any plans to help revive Android wearables. Kedia said that not only is a new lead watch arriving this fall, but so is a new wearable chipset from Qualcomm that has been built from the “ground up.”
There’s quite a bit to tackle here and I urge you to read Wareable’s entire write-up, but the basics are this:
- Qualcomm has built a brand new, from “ground up” chipset to be used in wearables that are coming later this year. This chipset isn’t just a modified other Snapdragon product that has been tweaked for wearables – it’s actually a wearable chip.
- This new chipset will allow for “dedicated chips that make your watch look pretty when you’re not looking at it, that brings the best fitness and watch experience, and extends battery life,” Kedia said.
- There will be a focus on watches both looking good and having smartwatch functionality. We’ve heard about a hybrid LG watch with mechanical hands and a touchscreen, which could be exactly what is being hinted at here. And Kedia is right in that smartwatches look bad when you aren’t using them.
- Battery life will see a “significant” boost and there will be better health features, like longer heart rate monitoring.
- But really, all Kedia wanted to talk about was the look of the watches and the fact that their “platform will significantly change the Wear OS ecosystem, what you expect from a smartwatch.”
A “lead” watch is supposed to arrive this fall, followed by many more over the holiday season.
Tell me, would you be interested in a smartwatch if it looked more like a normal watch?